I have a couple quick questions about garage outlets.

If I recall correctly, outlets in a garage must all be GFCI.

  1. Does that include ceiling outlets for garage door openers?
  2. Why? Genuinely curious the logic behind this code (not debating it, just wondering).

I also remember hearing that all outlets must be 18" off the ground because of something with gas fumes (I guess gas fumes don't rise higher than 18 inches?).

  1. Is that 18 inches to the bottom of the box or middle?
  • 1
    Some will say that the code was pushed by GFCI manufacturers, so they could increase profits. Whether this is true or not, the fact is, a GFCI can prevent electrocution. So why wouldn't you use them?
    – Tester101
    Oct 28, 2014 at 22:25
  • 1
    @Tester101 The only reason I can think of (other than the fact that GFCI outlets seem to geek out often, tripping when not needed which can interrupt service for things in garages like freezers that need to be on 24/7) is price, they are about 500% more expensive than normal tr outlets here, and I have 12 outlets in my garage...a small price to pay to not get shocked to death I guess
    – justinw
    Oct 29, 2014 at 1:01
  • 1
    But how many circuits do you have? One GFCI will protect all the outlets that come after it on one circuit, if wired to do that. Make it the first outlet in line, done, you probably need at most 3 for your 12 outlets, if that many. I am the some that tester is referring to, BTW, but I see no point in overbuying so as to increase their profits more ;-)
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 29, 2014 at 1:52
  • 2
    @Quoid They may be 500% more expensive, but you usually don't have to replace every single receptacle with a GFCI. One GFCI device can often protect an entire circuit.
    – Tester101
    Oct 29, 2014 at 1:53
  • Could you use a GFCI breaker instead of installing the GFCI outlets? Oct 29, 2014 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


Yes, even the receptacle for a GDO in the ceiling is required to be GFCI protected. The exception for this was removed in the 2008 NEC.

IMO the reasoning behind this is that folks will plug an extension cord in anywhere they can, even the ceiling. And many folks like to install those pull-down cord reels on the ceiling in the middle of the garage. The GDO receptacle is a super convenient place to plug these things in.

There is no height restriction in the electric code. This may be in the building code in your area.

  • The only place I recall seeing an 18 inch height limit in the garage, is for water heaters and other similar equipment. I could be mistaken though.
    – Tester101
    Oct 29, 2014 at 0:08
  • I think it might be local in that case, I have heard the height restriction from a few licensed electricians around here. I'll have to consult one of them to double check
    – justinw
    Oct 29, 2014 at 1:03
  • The height requirement is most likely local. I could also see it being required because of concernt that people may wash their garages out with the garden hose and possibly have water splashing up the walls. I don't necessarily see the point, but that's another possible reason. Sometimes you just won't be able to figure out why local building codes are the way they are.
    – rjbergen
    Oct 29, 2014 at 13:19
  • @rjbergen I am fairly confident it is because of gasoline fumes (since garages most often contain a car, another machine with a gas powered engine or gas cans themselves) - googling I found this article (although not for my town) - dcourier.com/… - makes me wonder if the master electrician I spoke with was telling me a true code or just his personal suggestion
    – justinw
    Oct 29, 2014 at 19:59
  • 4
    @Quoid, I know this is very old but I stumbled upon it. The "18 inch garage code" is a myth that stems from the NEC's Article 511 that requires electrical wiring installed within 18 inches of the floor in a commercial garage to be Class I Division 2. Basically, this means in a commercial garage wiring must be above 18 inches from the floor, or explosion proof if under 18 inches from the floor.
    – mjohns
    Jul 25, 2015 at 13:02

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